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IB Objectives

10 Jan Incorporating Your Local Standards and IB Objectives into the Curriculum

By Bernard-Alexandre Merkel, Rubicon International

Many schools have talked to us about the need to align to their local or national standards to their classroom curriculum. We have found this to be true of schools in the United States-and around the world. However, many schools not only need to connect curriculum with their local and state mandates, but also to the International Baccalaureate (IB) objectives and syllabus. This can sometimes be a struggle, as aligning to two potentially different curriculum can prove to be difficult. For many teachers, deciding which curriculum to focus on can present a significant challenge in terms of curriculum design and planning.

The IB framework seeks to “allow schools to meet national, state, provincial or other subject-specific curricular requirements” (From Principles into Practice, IB) and, ideally, should not be seen as an added burden for teachers. Many of the IB objectives for the Primary Years Programmes (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), and Diploma Programme (DP) are overarching in nature. These objectives provide invaluable guidance for teachers regarding the material and content that needs to be taught in a given subject area, whereas the academic standards (i.e. Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, AERO, or local curriculum) provide the specific content. In this way, the objectives from the IB program allows teachers to delve even further into those content-specific standards, allowing students to gain an enriched understanding of topics at hand.

Let’s take a look at an example for 8th grade Mathematics to help us visualize how incorporating the IB Objectives can add greater depth:

In the MYP objectives for the 3rd year, one of the “Applying mathematics in real-life contexts” objectives is to “select appropriate mathematics strategies when solving authentic real-life situations.” The objective is fairly general, but it provides guidance to help think through what type of content standards you might be able to pair with that concept. Once such standard is the following Common Core (or AERO) standard for 8th grade:

“8.EE.B.5. Graph proportional relationships, interpreting the unit rate as the slope of the graph. Compare two different proportional relationships represented in different ways. For example, compare a distance-time graph to a distance-time equation to determine which of two moving objects has greater speed.”

This Common Core (or AERO) standard provides the content students would learn from that larger IB concept. The IB objective is asking for teachers to emphasize content that allows students to apply math to those “real-life situations”, yet it doesn’t restrict teachers by saying exactly what situations should–or shouldn’t–be emphasized. This allows you to make the most appropriate choices for your classroom and your students. The IB objectives are big picture, allowing teachers to build the content around them.

Fortunately, if the tasks of thinking through these alignments seems daunting, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has published multiple papers on the connection between the IB to the Common Core Standards in both English Language Arts and Mathematics. They are working on showcasing the connections between the NGSS and IB, which should be released in 2017. In addition to the published work, the organization is also providing some consulting services on helping with school’s local alignments if a school requires more professional development around the subject.

What are some ways your school has bridged the connections between IB objectives and your local standards?  Share your strategies in the comments below or email us at pd@rubicon.com.

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